My Poke-Pinions | #60-62 and 186 – The Poli Line

Poliwag

Name: I think Poliwag’s name is really fitting and cute. It’s a play on ‘poliwog’ which is an old (and/or southern?) term for tadpoles, with ‘wag’ as in wagging a tail.

In Japan, it’s known as Nyoromo, which is….okay. I don’t think it’s quite as memorable or cute as Poliwag. It’s a little clunky. It’s a combination of ‘nyoronyoro’ which is the Japanese onomatopoeia for ‘wriggling’ and ‘kodomo’ which means ‘child.’

Fun Fact: In Germany, it’s known as Quapsel, which I think is super doofy but also adorable. It’s derived from the word ‘kaulquappe’ which is German for ‘tadpole.’

Also, supposedly, Poliwag is Pokemon creator, Satoshi Tajiri’s, favorite Pokemon. (At least it was as of 2004.)

Design: Look…..I love Poliwag. I think it’s very cute, adorable even. I love its little tail and big eyes….

But….

I don’t know why this bothers me or makes me feel bad for them. Lots of Pokemon don’t have arms or even legs, and tadpoles don’t have front legs yet, so it makes perfect sense, but for some reason it bothers me that Poliwag doesn’t have arms of any kind. I can’t explain it. It’s a very irrational uncomfortable feeling.

Sprite-wise…..ugh…..Oh R/B…..Poliwag looks dead here is all I can say.

Yellow looks better, but still kinda derpy.

R/G….is staring at me…..and I do not appreciate it. Make it stop.

Gold is pretty damn funny. It’s like it’s going “HuuuuUUUUhhhHHH?!”

Silver looks goddamn terrified.

Crystal has roughly the same base sprite as Gold, but the animation makes it look cuter and more natural and less perpetually confused.

Gen III is all cute. I like the little bouncing animation for Emerald.

Gen IV is really cute. My favorite is the jumping HG/SS sprite.

Gen V is pretty cute. I like the very small dancing-esque animation it has.

Gen VI looks sad af. Is that just me?

Every other Gen looks fine.

Shiny:

It’s just a lighter blue color. It’s fine, and I like the shade of blue, but it’s just a slightly different blue.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Because it has no arms and tiny legs, Poliwag doesn’t fare very well on land. However, it moves very swiftly in the water thanks to its strong and large tail.

Grossly, but understandably, the swirl on its stomach is not actually a design on its skin. The white part of its body is slightly translucent, and the swirl pattern is actually its internal organs showing through the thin skin…..I really wish I was kidding, but no. The reason I said this was understandable was because this aspect of Poliwag physiology was taken from tadpoles, who also have translucent skin and visible internal organs. For some reason, the Dex entries also note that the skin becomes even more translucent after Poliwag eats. Ew.

Don’t worry about the integrity of Poliwag’s tummy, however, because the skin, despite being thin, is also very durable and bouncy. Even Pokemon fangs bounce right off it.

The swirl direction changes depending on the region in which it’s found. There’s no concrete answer for what dictates which direction comes from which region, but it does say the equator might be a factor.

Additionally, Gen VII notes that white on the black swirl is indicative of illness within the Pokemon.

For some reason, Gen VI says it has black skin, which it obviously doesn’t. It’s blue. Admittedly, in Gen I it’s easy to mistake it for black, except in Yellow where it’s very blue, but it’s still just a dark blue. A note on the Wiki page says this, in combination with a note about Poliwhirl being oily, might be implying a connection to the bilberry, which is a berry very similar to a blueberry (it’s even known as the European blueberry) that has a waxy coating on that makes it look blue despite the skin actually being black….Okay….if this is true, why is Poliwag being given berry lore?

I’m pretty certain this is just someone trying to figure out a justification for that odd note when, in all likelihood, it was probably a mistake or something.

Finally, Gen VIII notes that, in extremely fast moving rivers, Poliwag will anchor itself to rocks by suctioning itself to them using its big lips….How do they eventually get out of the river?

In terms of design, Poliwag was simply based on a tadpole.

Poliwag did have a prototype released in 1997 that looked like this.

You’re welcome for the nightmares.

Poliwhirl

Name: Poliwhirl’s name is simple, but fitting and fairly cute. It’s a combination of ‘poliwog’ and ‘whirl’ or ‘whirlpool.’

Its Japanese name is Nyorozo, which breaks down to ‘nyoronyoro’ and ‘kozo’, meaning ‘youngster.’ I kinda don’t care for this name. It’s just a bit awkward to say, in my opinion. It’s technically meaningful enough, but it’s just kinda clunky.

Design: It’s weird, but I’ve always had a big soft spot for Poliwhirl. It’s very cute and cuddly in its own odd way. If you look at Poliwhirl for too long, you start asking questions about its weird appearance like where did its mouth go between evolutions? Why would it LOSE an important body part between evolutions? How does it eat without a mouth? Where did it get mittens? It is indeed weird, but I can’t help but love it. I just want to give a Poliwhirl a hug.

Sprite-wise, Gen I is a tiny bit weird, but it fares much better than many Pokemon of that era. R/B is probably the worst because the eye stalks pop up just a tab bit too much.

Yellow’s fine, even if it has an ‘old man yells at cloud’ motif.

R/G is definitely a little off-putting. It’s kinda cute in its shy pose but the weird fish-eye lens curve to its eyes here is just eugh.

Gold is okay, but Silver is really neat. It’s like it’s trying to reach out to the player.

Crystal gives off really strong Poliwrath vibes.

Gen III is fine, and Gen IV is a lot of fun. D/P/P looks like Poliwhirl is partaking in a martial arts competition while HG/SS cheers it on.

Every other Gen is fine.

Shiny:

It’s the same blue shade as Poliwag’s shiny and equally uninteresting.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Poliwhirl has gained an arm upgrade as well as slightly stronger legs to give it more mobility on land, even though it obviously prefers being in the water. In order to keep its skin moist when out of water, it sweats an oily substance all over its body. This oil actually helps it in battle by allowing it to easily slip out of the enemy’s clutches.

Gen VII gets a little dark by explaining that Poliwhirl will grab Bug Pokemon on land and drag them underwater (effectively drowning them) so it can eat them in a safer place. It also eats fish Pokemon……Although, again….where the hell is its mouth?

The Wiki page provides an image of Poliwhirl’s internal anatomy, and I still can’t see where its mouth would be.

Some post I found said it’s the little line up top, but I think that’s just detailing on the intestines because there would be a mouth visible in that location if that was it.

According to the Pokedex, Poliwhirl is capable of lulling enemies (or even children) to sleep by having them look at its stomach swirl as its belly undulates. And unlike many odd Pokemon abilities that don’t seem to match what they can canonically do in regards to moveset, Poliwhirl actually can use Hynopsis. It can also use Amnesia and Psywave, which I think is taking the concept a bit far because it’s still just using its belly swirl and hypnosis for this power. It shouldn’t actually have real Psychic powers.

Poliwhirl is based on the glass frog, which is a super adorable and really cool-looking frog, despite the whole ‘being able to see their organs through their skin’ thing.

Poliwrath

Name: Poliwrath’s name is pretty good. It’s snappy and fairly intimidating. It’s a combination of ‘poliwog’ and ‘wrath.’

In Japan, it’s known as Nyorobon, which is probably the best of the three Japanese names so far. It’s a combination of ‘nyoronyoro’ and ‘bon’ for ‘boy’………So…..we went from….child to youngster to boy….Poliwrath, the big intimidating one of the line….is just a boy? Okie dokie….

Fun Fact: In Germany, it’s known as Quappo, which is pretty funny.

Design: Poliwrath is most certainly one of the laziest evolutions I’ve ever seen, especially for a final evo. A Poliwhirl goes to the gym three days a week and is also angry – that’s Poliwrath.

…..Oh and it also grew a few fingers.

Sprite-wise, what’s up with R/B? Its eyes are massive.

Yellow looks like he’s falling asleep while fighting.

R/G’s a bit better. Kinda puffing out its chest.

Gens II and III are good. All of the animations are fist fighting, which is neat.

Gen IV is……what is it doing in D/P/P? Is it pooping? Summoning Cthulu? I don’t understand.

HG/SS is a bit better as it’s flexing whatever tadpole muscles it has.

Gen V is fine.

Gen VI—CALL THE COPS! POLIWRATH IS STRANGLING AN INVISIBLE PERSON AND WON’T STOP DOING IT UNTIL POKEMON HOME!

Shiny:

Question – why is the Poli line just now getting a differently colored shiny?

Being based on a frog, having a green shiny makes a lot of sense, and this shade is perfect for it. It’s a bit of a shame that the previous evos weren’t also green or at least a different color is all.

Also, look at Beta Poliwrath and his little crown lol

Dex Entries and Backstory: If you thought my notes on the design were boring, the main features the Pokedex talks about are that it has a lot of muscles and can swim really, really well.

That’s pretty much it. Everything else is just tiny added details like it can easily beat champion human swimmers, human children learn to swim watching Poliwrath swim, it can swim across the Pacific Ocean easily, it has very low body fat, it can reduce rocks and chunks of ice to bits and pieces with a single punch….That’s all.

In terms of design, Poliwrath is still based on the glass frog, but the Wiki notes that it may also be based on amphibian neoteny as it stays in tadpole form and never completes its transformation. The entire Poli line, sans Politoed, are all classified as Tadpole Pokemon. That’d make sense, but it’s also really weird because neotenic frogs don’t seem to exist – or if they do, they’re insanely rare. At most, it’s been documented that some frogs keep their tails after they complete their transformation, but they don’t need to be aquatic, so they’re just basically frogs with tails.

Supposedly, the addition of the Fighting Typing is theorized to be because frogs gain bigger bodies and higher muscle mass compared to a tadpole……??? That’s a bit of a stretch. That would also apply to many other Pokemon based on real animals, especially if you take evolutionary lines as being more or less child → teen → adult.

Politoed

Name: Politoed has the best name of the bunch. It’s a combination of ‘poliwog’ and ‘toad’ but spelled with an e. The Wiki says that, in this circumstance, the ‘poli’ part may actually be ‘poly’ as in ‘many’ and ‘toed’ indicating it has a lot of toes, but it, like,….doesn’t. It has toes, but it doesn’t particularly have many toes. It actually has rather few toes. I guess it has many toes compared to the other entries in the Poli line since they have no toes.

I really just think they were making a cute play on words because now it has little frog toes.

In Japan, it’s called Nyorotono – a mixture of ‘nyoronyoro’ and ‘tono’ for ‘lord’ which makes a lot of sense because Politoed is achieved by using a King’s Rock on a Poliwhirl. It’s also theorized that the ‘tono’ part is indicating ‘tonosama-gaeru’, a dark-spotted frog.

Honestly, I still find the Japanese name scheme to be kinda clunky, but who am I?

Design: Politoed is incredibly cute, and now it has a mouth again!. I really love frogs, and this one is a big ol’ cutie. I love the color choices, its eyes and face, its pudgy belly. It’s a great Pokemon. One of my favorites.

That being said…..they went in the exact opposite direction with Politoed’s design than they did with Poliwrath. Whereas Poliwrath looks way too similar to Poliwhirl, they made no effort whatsoever to make Politoed look like it belongs in the Poli line. It has a spiral on its belly, sure, but the spiral is barely a spiral, it’s more like a simple curled line, and it doesn’t look anything like the spiral on the rest of the line, which, barring directionality, has stayed incredibly consistent.

It’s almost like they designed a really great frog Pokemon but they didn’t want it to be a standalone Pokemon so they just stapled it onto the Poli line.

It does make sense for a tadpole line to wind up as a frog, but it simply looks too different to feel like a natural progression at all, especially since the only entry in the Poli line that actually looks like a tadpole is Poliwag. I realize how silly that seems because, when you compare a tadpole in real life to a real frog, they also look nothing alike. But when it comes to Pokemon evolutionary lines, you tend to expect some degree of consistent design so you can at least see how each step connects.

What’s especially interesting about the choice to make this Pokemon a Poli evo is that, if Poliwrath’s Wiki is any indication, the line was originally intended to NOT end up as a frog. If it’s a case of mimicking neoteny, then all three being classified as tadpoles makes sense. But branching off into a frog, thereby completing the transformation cycle, just confuses the theme of the line.

Shifting over to sprite talk, Gen II is very green, man. Like real green.

Interestingly, the Japanese version had spots on its back for some reason.

Gen III is fun.

Gen IV is cute, but what exactly is up with HG/SS? Why does it look like someone told the animator to make Politoed look like an energetic baby?

Gen V is super cute, but I’m not sure how I feel about that brief belly wiggle.

Everything else is cute enough, but before I move on, can anyone tell me what the difference is between the male and female versions of this Pokemon?

I stared at these sprites for a long time trying to figure out what the difference was without needing to look at the biological information, and literally the only thing I could see is that the female has SLIGHTLY smaller cheeks.

….And yup that’s the difference.

Why even bother with stuff like this? I mean, at the very least, I guess I can say they didn’t do the stupid thing of making the cheeks heart shaped, but seriously. It’s such a tiny detail.

Shiny:

Politoed’s shiny is certainly….colorful. It reminds a LOT of cotton candy. I want to like this shiny so much more than I actually do. It’s a beautiful shade of blue. That shade of pink is also really nice….the combination is what’s putting me off a little. I also don’t like that the ‘hair’ on its head is now white for some reason. I can’t fully get on board with it, is all. Some of the shiny sprites look really good, especially the post-Gen II earlier Gens.

Others, Gen VI onward (the first image), have the colors being more off-putting. They’re darker and deeper, which makes the contrast more apparent. You’d think stronger contrast would be good, but here it just feels like it’s too much.

At the very least, they do get a lot of credit for trying to make a unique shiny. Among the plain Poli line, it’s a massive upgrade, and among other shinies out there it’s pretty damn unique in regards to color combos. Being fair, as a frog, it has a right to be insanely bright and colorful.

The first shiny version, however, is just ugly. It’s a gross shade of green mixed with an awful shade of pink. It makes Politoed look very ill, to be honest.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Politoed’s an audio nightmare.

The Dex entries note a lot about how they come together and make extremely loud bellowing noises to gather Poliwag and Poliwhirl. “Their cries sound angry and not at all pleasant, but they are certainly distinctive.”

These sounds also make the Poliwag and Poliwhirl cower in fear and asserts the Politoed’s role as leader and king.

I’m sorry. This whole thing is, again, making me think this arrangement with the Poli line was an afterthought.

Look at this Pokemon and tell me it instills fear or gives off “king” vibes.

Why, of the entire line, would PoliTOED be the one who makes the other evos cower in fear when another evo has WRATH in its name? Poliwrath can reduce boulders to rubble with one punch. Politoed doesn’t even have a secondary typing, which just makes the whole “Poliwrath is Fighting Type because frogs have strong muscles” thing seem even weirder because Politoed is the actual frog and its not a Fighting Type or muscular at all.

Moving on, the female of the species cannot make sounds as loud as the male, and it’s said that the deeper and more menacing cries from the males attract more females.

The curly ‘hair’ on its head acts as a crown, which is a nod to the King’s Rock that is used to achieve this evolution, and it’s proof of its status as the king of the Poli line. The longer and curlier the hair is, the more respect the Politoed commands.……Uh…yeah, sure. Because when I see a curly hair, I think “crown.”

Why not just do as they were going to do with Poliwrath and give it an actual crown? It wouldn’t come off as out of place, given the ol’ fairy tales of princes turning into frogs.

In terms of design, Politoed was based on the European tree frog. I don’t know how they sussed out the exact frog in this situation as Politoed looks like a very typical frog, but I accept this. I have no clue where the hair came from, though. If it really is just their weird version of a crown, I have no idea how they got from point A to point B on that one.

Again, the spiral on it’s stomach is said to represent internal organs appearing through the skin, like glass frogs….Wait “represent”? The other Poli line entries said that the spiral WAS the internal organs showing through.

Okay, hang on – Poliwrath’s Wiki page also says it’s meant to be a representation of the organs, but Poliwhirl and Poliwag’s biology sections says they’re actually showing through. “A black and white swirl covers its belly, which is actually its organs showing through its thin skin.” “There is a black and white swirl on its abdomen, which is actually its internal organs showing through its semitransparent skin.”

Even giving leeway because that’s the Wiki page, so anyone can edit it, the official Pokedex entries for Poliwag say this. “The swirl on its body is its internal organs seen through its skin.” This is repeated in every single Gen’s Pokedex entries all the way to Gen VIII.

I don’t know what to believe. I guess it makes more sense that the swirl is just a representation instead of the actual organs showing through, because 1) That’d be gross, 2) I doubt that’s something neither Nintendo/Game Freak nor the anime animators would feel comfortable showing and 3) It’s clearly a simple black line, not detailed organs. However, I can’t ignore what the Dex entries have been repeating to this very day.

I will say, without a doubt, that Politoed’s situation is clearly one of just being a representation because, again, it’s not so much a full, long swirl as it is just a line with a curl at the end. If that is Politoed’s organs, I think it needs to see a doctor immediately.

And that was the Poli line.

I do really like this entire line, even if I do have numerous questions about a variety of things concerning it. It’s cute, it’s doofy, it’s fun and it’s very unique, despite its simplicity.

Next up, Abra Kadabra Alakazam! *poof* *vanishes*


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